Kelowna mother with addicted son gets politician's attention

Mom gets political attention

A Kelowna mother who's struggled to help her son get the addiction help he needs has gotten the attention of a B.C. politician.

Pam Rader spoke to Castanet last week about her son's struggle with opioids over the past several years, and the barriers that have prevented him from getting into a residential treatment program.

Saturday, Jane Thornthwaite, BC Liberal Critic for Mental Health and Addictions, issued a press release highlighting Rader's concerns and criticizing the NDP government.

“Every week I hear from parents around this province who are desperate to get their children into addiction treatment but are facing more barriers than ever before,” Thornthwaite said.

“Countless British Columbians struggling with addiction are being left out in the cold as this government fails to adequately fund treatment facilities that we know save lives.”

Currently, to get access to a publicly funded treatment bed, there is a one- to three-month wait to get a referral from Interior Health, which is then followed by several more months of waiting for a bed to become available.

“I am having to stand watch over my son minute-by-minute to make sure he stays clean, but as a small business owner, I can’t do this for months on end while we wait for an available treatment bed,” Rader told Thornthwaite. “From our experience, it’s far more difficult today than at any time in the past decade to get access to treatment. It’s time for the government to reduce the barriers and help my son get into treatment before it is too late.”

These sentiments were echoed by a local service provider last month, who spoke to Castanet as part of a three-part series on the lack of local addiction treatment funding.

“This community is incredibly under-resourced,” said Celine Thompson, executive director of the The Bridge Youth and Family Services. “Individuals that are identifying as willing, able and really wanting support and help have absolutely nowhere to turn.”

Thompson said the growing number of people living on the streets in Kelowna is directly related to the lack of services that are available for people struggling with addiction.

Since 2016, 4,850 people have died in B.C. from opioid-related causes. 

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